SUAS Project to feature on Ear To The Ground

SUAS Project to feature on Ear To The Ground

We are delighted to be able share that the SUAS Project will feature on this evening’s ‘Ear To The Ground’ episode. Broadcasting on RTE One at 7pm, the programme visits west Wicklow’s Granamore Commonage to discover how the farmers are collaboratively working to restore the water table and upland habitats through planned intervention measures.

Working closely with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the Granamore Commonage Group has undertaken numerous habit actions, with the recent damming of gullies formed through natural and man-made activities profiled in the upcoming episode. Also discussed, is the extensive tree-planting of native saplings to offer soil stabilisation and to protect the water quality of upland streams that feed into the nearby Blessington Lakes – a vital source of freshwater for counties Dublin and Wicklow.

Now on its 30th series, the popular factual series explores the issues, challenges and opportunities facing Ireland’s farming communities. In tomorrow night’s episode, presenter Ella McSweeney meets with the farmers involved to discuss the success of the EIP project; and with Declan Byrne, SUAS Project Manager, Faith Wilson, SUAS project ecologist and Ann Fitzpatrick, Conservation Ranger with the NPWS, to explore its impact and possible future adoption as a model to sustainably manage Ireland’s sensitive upland habitats.

The programme will be available to view on the RTE Player following its broadcast.…/ear-to-the-ground/SI0000000488

The Granamore Commonage Group consists of 10 farmers who farm commonage lands within the Wicklow Mountains National Park on the western side of the county. The commonage itself comprises 1132 acres, with the group members involved with sheep farming activities.

The group was formed as part of their participation in the SUAS EIP Project, with the aim of coming together to collectively improve the commonage that they manage. Their shared commitment and success, led to their nomination in the Farming For Nature Awards in 2022.

As part of their participation in SUAS, a sustainable management plan for the location was developed with guidance from ecologist Faith Wilson, followed by the farmers undertaking numerous actions to protect and enhance the biodiversity on the land.

Collectively, they have been very busy, with many positive and meaningful changes to the biodiversity and upland habitats now evident on Granamore. Heather and gorse are being managed manually with bush cutters, mineral licks are used to encourage the sheep into areas of dense heather where they trample the thick heather thus allowing space for other vegetation to grow. Bog roads on the hill have been restored and historic grazing management practices have been altered to protect upland habitats.

Under a wider SUAS initiative delivered across various locations in the Wicklow and Dublin Uplands, the group have planted a considerable number of native trees to assist stabilising stream banks, therefore reducing erosion and runoff, and protecting water sources through the naturally occurring filtration process, and the overall improvement of biodiversity and the creation of a mosaic of habitats.

Their management plan for 2022 included fencing off exclusion zones in sensitive areas as part of a trial with the NPWS, and the construction of timber dams to block eroded upland gullies and to improve the water table, soil conditions and the natural upland vegetation.

Through their involvement in the 5 year SUAS Project, the participating farmers have gained a greater appreciation for the land they manage, with great consideration now given to its biodiversity, water quality, carbon storage and the upland habitats and wildlife found in the area

Their work, along with all of the participating hill-farmers, continues to inspire and inform how sustainable management practices to our great natural assets – the uplands – can be achieved by working collectively and with their biodiversity health in mind.